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(Blood) Orange Polenta Cake

This recipe is from my FAVOURITE cookbook (and casual restaurant in London) called Ottolenghi.  They have the most divine salads, vegie dishes and cakes & desserts.

Quick polenta works better than standard polenta in cakes because it cooks quicker and doesn't have a gritty texture.

Ingredients

50g plain flour
1t baking powder
200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
240g almond meal
120g quick-cook polenta

Caramel topping:
90g caster sugar
2 tablespoons water
20g unsalted butter, diced
3 small oranges (I used blood oranges)

Glaze:
4 tablespoons orange marmalade (I used blood orange maramalade)
1 tablespoon water

Instructions:

Lightly grease a 20cm spring form tin (I used a 24cm springform tin) and line the base and sides with baking paper.

Make the caramel first. Have ready a small pastry brush and a cup of water.  Put the sugar for the caramel in a heavy-based saucepan and add the water.  Stir gently to wet the sugar through and then place on a low-medium heat.  Slowly bring the sugar to the boil.  While it bubbles away, brush the sides of the pan occasionally with a little of the water in the cup to get rid of any crystals that form close to the bubbling sugar.

After a few minutes the water should evaporate and the sugar will start to darken.  Keep your eye on it because sugar can easily burn.  As soon as it reaches a nice golden colour, remove the pan from the heat.  With your face at a safe distance, add the chunks of butter.  Stir with a wooden spoon and then pour the caramel over the lined base of the cake tin.  Ensure it is spread evenly across the base of the tin.

Grate the zest of the oranges and set aside.  Using a small, sharp knife, slice 1cm off from the top and bottom of each orange.  Then cut off the remaining skin and all the white pith.  Cut each orange horizontally into roughly 6 slices.  Remove the pips and lay out the slices tightly over the caramel.

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees celcius.

To make the cake batter, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together lightly.  Make sure they are well combined but do not incorporate too much air into the mixture.  Gradually add the eggs while the machine is on a low speed.  Add the reserved orange zest and the orange blossom water, followed by the almond meal, polenta and sifted dry ingredients.  As soon as they are all mixed in, stop the machine.

Transfer the batter to the prepared cake tin, making sure that the oranges underneath stay in a single neat layer.  Level the mixture carefully with a palette knife.  Place the cake in the oven and bake for 40 - 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out dry.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 5 minutes.

While the cake is still hot, place a flat plate on top and briskly turn over onto the plate.  Remove the tin and lining paper.  Leave the cake to cool completely.

For the glaze, bring the marmalade and water to the boil in a small saucepan and then pass through a sieve.  While the glaze is still hot, lightly spoon/brush the top of the cake with it.

Mine looked like this...

If you bake this recipe, please pop a comment or post below and send me a photograph which I'll add to the post...

This cake has probably been everyone's favourite so far (on par with the Torte de Cicciolata).

Happy baking


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